Sister Rose Ann Barmann, OSB reflects on the scripture readings: First Reading Daniel 7:13-14; Second Reading Revelation 1:5-8; Gospel Reading John 18:33-37
Greetings and Blessings to each of you listening to this reflection for the Feast of Christ the King. All daughters and sons of Christ our King, Welcome and thank you for tuning in.
“Are you the King of the Jews”? That is the central question of the Gospel for this weekend. All four of our Gospels quote Pilate as asking that question and none of them tell us in what language Pilate asked it. Pilate was probably bilingual, speaking Latin and Greek. Jesus too, was probably bilingual, speaking Aramaic and biblical Hebrew. The Gospel writers don’t tell us if Jesus and Pilate had a common tongue or spoke through interpreters, but in the scene described in today’s Gospel they were not speaking the same language nor were they on the same level of thought.
The reason the church celebrates the solemnity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, is to call ourselves to account on who or what is at the center of our lives: Christ our King or other idols. Today’s feast calls us to look at Christ the crucified servant and to ask not “are you a king?” but ask, are you my king, or do I have other idols?
As we mark this Feast of Christ the King, the image of “King” is a challenging concept for most of us to embrace or understand. Do you know any kings? I don’t except in name only.
Celebrating the kingship of Christ may conjure up many negative images of harsh kings who were brutal and mean monarchs…cruel rulers and dictators who oppressed their subjects, especially the poor and marginalized persons under their rule. Most often the poor were discounted, and because they could not afford to pay the taxes, the poor were expendable. Persons were only valued on their ability to feed the greed of those in power.
As people impelled by the Word of God, we understand this feast of Christ as our King through the lens of the Word of God that we hear with our ears and that rests on our hearts for this feast. We understand this feast as a celebration of the God whose will is to draw each of us into sharing in God’s very life and being. We are daughters and sons of our Divine King. We are subjects of our unconditional loving God; we are not objects of the whims of an unjust monarch.
Our Baptismal certificates are our charters as daughters and sons of God. This feast goes to the heart of our identity in Christ… anointed as priests, prophets and yes, Queens, blessed by God. That is our identity and dignity as daughters made in the image and likeness of God. In the Book of Revelation for this feast we hear:
“Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us … who has made us into a kingdom, priests for God to him be glory and power forever and ever. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
The Book of Revelation gives us our passport and documents as daughters and priests of Christ the King.
We ritualize our identity in Christ, every time we experience our sacramental life. We live into the meaning of being daughters and sons of God as recipients of the sacraments, the seven Divine signs of God’s tangible real presence in our lives that we encounter on a regular basis.
When we were younger, we memorized that the Sacraments were outward signs instituted by Christ to give us GRACE. We understood and understand that GRACE is the sharing in God’s very Life. Through the sacraments we receive grace and grace immerses us into God, we are God’s work of art; we are precious and sacred persons, basking in God’s gaze.
God is unconditional, loving, Divine presence dwelling in each of us. That’s what we rejoice and celebrate today on this feast of Christ Our King.
In the Book of Daniel, the use of the word “dominion” can be off putting. If we dwell on our cultural images and experiences of kings, presidents, and rulers we could be depressed by this feast.
But today’s feast presents us with Christ as our Ruler and King; marked as a servant leader king who lays down His life for the least and the greatest. Every human being and all creation are seen as precious and important to our tender and loving God. A King who stoops to wash our feet and to feed our every hunger, such is our King and God that we honor and celebrate today.
Having said that, we hold the tensions of opposites in using the image of Kingship, benevolent rulers with real care and concern for their subjects distinguished against brutal and heartless dictators. We have both realities that we experience in our world today. Godly leaders like P. Francis and cruel heartless rulers focused on their own greed, power, control, and approval ratings.
We sing with joyous exuberance during our Christmas celebrations. We are all Shepherd’s and Kings. In a few days, we will be preparing to celebrate the season of Advent as we once again recall the “Coming of God” in Jesus the Christ to dwell among us and within us as our king, prophet, and priest.
We are Daughters of God, God’s beloved Benedictine women who are good, holy women seeking God in the daily celebration of our lives together in community.
And we say, YES, AMEN… So Be It!